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Neighborhood symbol, meeting point for all generations of Sanisidrenses, the iconic Plaza Miter in front of the Cathedral shines again as it was in the first half of the 20th century. The flats that surrounded it for months were removed to make way inside for a series of hydraulic engineering works. Once the underground structure was consolidated, the recovery of all its original components was achieved, discarding subsequent interventions.

The little square of San Isidro, or the Plaza de la Catedral, as the locals call it, is a green space on a ravine a few meters from the Río de la Plata that occupies almost one hectare in the founding zone of the party, in the Historic District. It is located on Avenida del Libertador at 16,200, in a section where the northern suburban artery narrows. Before the pandemic, public space was visited by 3,000 people on weekends. They came attracted by the imposing neo-Gothic cathedral, by the old colonial mansions and the walks of quiet streets that surround the urban complex.

In the background, you can see the iconic Cathedral of San Isidro
In the background, you can see the iconic Cathedral of San IsidroFabian Marelli

However, over the years the square had entered a gradual state of neglect and abandonment mainly caused by rainwater leaks that sank and broke the tiles, transforming some sectors into a slum. Even when there was a storm the water fell like a waterfall through the main stairs. That aspect had little to do with that of its golden age, between 1930 and 1950.

Also, and as a consequence of the water, the historic balustrades that surrounded the promenade and the benches broke. As he explained he to THE NATION the mayor of San Isidro, Gustavo Posse, this was due to the fact that the property was initially vacant where a square was later made without any previous study of the soil: “The problem is that all the ravines are muddy and this causes the constructions in the surface ends up breaking up.

“It is the first time that a project of this magnitude has been undertaken. The previous interventions were partial,” reported the municipality. The first thing was to install drains and storm drains to make them converge towards a new collector on Ituzaingó street, downhill, which in turn connects with another larger pipe, the Primera Junta pipe, with a direct outlet towards the river. “We had to raise the entire plaza and do several works within one,” explained Posse. For this, a total of 660 linear meters of rainwater pipes were installed, among other tasks.

Over the years, the square had entered a gradual state of neglect and abandonment.
Over the years, the square had entered a gradual state of neglect and abandonment.Fabian Marelli

They also solved the breakage of floors, stairs and sidewalks due to the excessive growth of the roots of hundred-year-old trees, especially tipas, a characteristic species of the area, explained Leandro Martín, undersecretary of Public Space for the Party, during a tour of the square. . For that “the roots were contained with a new concrete mesh. They did it in depth and around the four central and most important trees of the property where there are also four palm trees, a cypress and the iconic ombú ”, he detailed.

In total, the more than 70 trees in the space were preserved, in addition to the privet beds that were surrounded by low bars for years but have now been removed. They were not part of the original project, nor did they serve to prevent people from crossing the promenade walking on the plants and grass.

“We have trees that are over 115 years old that we must maintain regularly, lightening them at the top, thus prolonging their permanence,” said Posse, referring to the possibility that the municipality’s ecology experts now have to enter with cranes and to prune. Before, the overgrown branches prevented the entry of the sun, giving darkness to the walk.

For the reconstruction of the Plaza de la Catedral de San Isidro, historical photos from the first half of the 20th century were taken as a model.
For the reconstruction of the Plaza de la Catedral de San Isidro, historical photos from the first half of the 20th century were taken as a model.Municipality of San Isidro

Regarding lighting, 9,300 meters of mostly underground electrical cables were installed and the 53 vintage lampposts in the public space where couples declared their love, played tricks or young people met when leaving the schools and colleges of the city were restored. zone. All customs that return from the opening of the traditional space surrounded by the Bishopric of San Isidro, the San Juan el Precursor school, the Paseo de los Ombúes and the old mansionsin addition to the cathedral inaugurated in 1989.

The plan sought to rescue the elements that gave the space its identity: the trees, the commemorative and ornamental monuments, the 1913 floral clock, the balustrades and stairs, the white concrete and wooden benches, the drinking fountain, the lampposts and the brick flooring manufactured in San Isidro. “The budget allocated for the works was 216 million pesos. 150 workers worked,” the municipality reported.

“We recovered 17,000 original bricks with their factory logo, San Isidro, and we built a historic window with those original bricks and we covered the red flooring of the entire lower part of the square with replicas. The drinking troughs, the 30 benches were repaired and missing balusters were placed, completely restoring the entire strip of the original balustrade”, explained Martín.

As for the monuments, the marble bust of General Bartolomé Mitre was valued; Father Pedro Leopoldo Menini, or the Gaucho priest and that of the former mayor Adrián Beccar Varela. At the same time, the monoliths added later, such as the Hito a la Argentinidad and the Monument to La Paz, were transferred. The name of the square refers to Miter who already in 1910 had his own statue in a prominent position, in the upper sector of the promenade, next to the temple. Both the sculptures and the balustrades, among other elements, were recovered by José Mastrángelo, who learned the trade from his father, Héctor, and today is dedicated to the restoration of historical buildings and monuments, as well as the production of ornaments, gazebos , sources and columns.

"Minimum intervention and maximum preservation" was the motto under which the approved works were faced
“Minimum intervention and maximum preservation” was the motto under which the approved works were facedFabian Marelli

The historical photograph research It allowed us to identify period cuts and how the promenade was transformed over the years, without having a particular inauguration date. San Isidro was born without a square, contrary to the precepts of the laws of the time from Spain, where cities were growing from the main square. For its enhancement, the years from 1930 to 1950 were taken, which offer the most consolidated aspect of the site, both in terms of its constructive materiality and its landscaping. It could be said that it was the time of greatest splendor of the ride.

“Minimum intervention and maximum preservation” was the motto under which the works approved and then supervised by the National Commission of Monuments, Places and Historical Assets were undertaken. The space is included within a polygon declared a National Historic Site by decree of 1963. This declaration also includes the Cathedral and the Paseo de los Tres Ombúes.

To learn about the history of Plaza Miter, an Interpretation Center was created, that is, a museum, next to the central stairs. On the opposite side, new toilets were installed. The flooring placed has a special strip where blind people can move and a special ramp was built so that those with reduced mobility can travel up to the middle of the property. In total there will be three descents, the main staircase, one for people with disabilities and next to it a pedestrian one.

Historical photo taken in the square during the first half of the 20th century
Historical photo taken in the square during the first half of the 20th centuryMunicipality of San Isidro

On the lower level, separated by the staircase, the traditional floral clock from 1913 struck again, when the authorities sought to have one similar to the postcards of the city of Edinburgh, Scotland. For this they summoned Don José de Testorelli, who left his Switzerland to open the doors of his store in 1887, in the aristocratic town of San Isidro. The man worked ad honorem aware of the historical importance that the watch would acquire.

The renovated square was officially inaugurated on Saturday, November 12, and from that moment to date, movement began to be seen within the property. Some neighbors, like Corina Alauzis, immediately expressed their opinion on social networks: “Very pretty! I hope all citizens take care of it.” Mariel Silba posted “beautiful”, and Cristina Allweiler congratulated the municipality for her “great work”.

The news of the opening was received with special emotion by one of the members of a traditional family in the area, Soledad Beccar Varela: “I am 66 years old and I have always lived four blocks from the square. I am the granddaughter of Adrián Beccar Varela, whose bust is on the promenade. My grandfather was the one who brought the idea of ​​the floral clock”.

This is what the square looked like 100 years ago
This is what the square looked like 100 years agoMunicipality of San Isidro

While it was closed to the public, criticism came from the Con Vocación neighborhood party, which last April called for a march to request the reopening of Plaza Miter, questioning the delay in completing the work. Although the initial project indicated that the tasks started in April 2021 would take almost a year, that term was extended for another six months. According to Leandro Martín, it was due to the “difficulties in working during the pandemic and the magnitude of the hydraulic works faced.”

In general terms, the objective of the plan is to promote the local economy by generating a tourist circuit that includes Plaza Miter, Bajo de San Isidro and the museums in the area. However, the Estación San Isidro del Tren de la Costa Shopping Center, born in the 1990s, is still closed and in a state of abandonment. In the middle of last year, the State announced that it would become the headquarters of the Raúl Scalabrini Ortiz National University.

Regarding its future enhancement, Posse was optimistic: “Gabriel Katopodis would have shown interest in advancing with the project and we are working well in that regard,” he said in relation to the National Minister of Public Works, the body in charge of the plays.

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